Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley can attribute her competitive performance in Tuesday night’s New Hampshire primary almost entirely to voters outside her own party, exit polls suggest. According to surveys conducted by CNN, the state’s open primary model allowed record numbers of Democrats and independents to vote for Haley—an ill omen for her future performance within her own party.

As Valuetainment previously reported, former President Donald Trump handily won the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday night, securing 54.3 percent of the vote as of Wednesday morning. Though Haley ran an initially competitive race in early projections, she finished a distant second with 43.3 percent the polls closed. Most major outlets called the primary for Trump within minutes, and Haley picked up just 9 delegates to Trump’s 12.

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However, though her speech after the results came in failed to mention it, much of Haley’s performance is likely attributable to New Hampshire’s open primary, which allows “undeclared” or unaffiliated voters to participate in partisan elections.

According to CNN’s exit polls, 7 in 10 Granite State residents who backed Haley were “registered as undeclared prior to Tuesday.” Only 27 percent of her supporters were registered Republicans, painting a grim picture of the party’s thoughts about her candidacy.

At multiple points throughout the evening, Haley voters interviewed by various media outlets freely admitted to being Democrats and Biden supporters who crossed party lines. A Democratic Party decision meant that President Joe Biden did not have to run in the primary, freeing up his vast base of undeclared voters to help advance Haley’s campaign.

Related: Donald Trump Wins the New Hampshire Primary Election

Meanwhile, Donald Trump’s base was exactly the opposite, with 70 percent registered Republicans and 27 percent undeclared.

With a slate of closed primaries—ones that are available only to registered party members—following after New Hampshire, experts are predicting that Haley’s performance on Tuesday night is unlikely to be repeated.

Connor Walcott is a staff writer for Follow Connor on X (Twitter) and look for him on VT’s “The Unusual Suspects.”

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